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moya: public television in america has brought talented irish artists into your homes and hearts for years. but irish music has always reached well beyond the pbs artists you've come to love. hi, i'm moya brennan and i'm part of a grammy award winning musical family from county donegal in the northwest corner of ireland. i'm going to take you on a musical journey of discovery and reflection, introducing you to the most well known irish artists of our time and even some you may not have heard of til now. royan tynan: i don't think that there's any country in the world that has the wealth of writing, composing, and singing, and not only that but the delivery of the song: we can make you cry. sinead o'connor: these are the ghosts of the people who lived our history. we will always want to sing those songs because they haunt us, you know, haunting.
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bono: it's very moving. it's that bitter sweetness. irish music has that sadness in it, even at it's most happy. narrator: barnes and noble book sellers is pleased to support music of ireland: welcome home. barnes and noble offers a wide selection of books, music, movies, and more from authors and artists around the world.
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more information at from belfast to cork to the countryside in between, ireland offers a host of activities along the way. more information is available online to help you. go where ireland takes you. moya brennan: history has affected irish music, i think from the word "go." so we must begin our journey with some reflections of irish life and culture. bob geldof: it's very important to understand how isolated ireland was in its culture kampf. it was "planet ireland," it was very removed from the giant economic cultural neighbor beside us, britain, and certainly from the european mainland, which was just exotica. it just wasn't part of it, and ireland in the 50s was mired in the terrible poverty of opportunity as well as economy.
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we were taught to be very quiet about this. the church-state compact that was embedded in the irish constitution is a key thing in the story of contemporary music, i think. so i bang on about that because it needs to be stated that this was a huge factor, this was a huge thing. moya: oh, that's fantastic. so the prie actually would go around and he would visit houses to make sure people weren't, kind of, playing music, or singing, or doing anything and sort of, i suppose, you know, particularly drinking the night before going to mass. and they used to, as soon as the priest would leave the house, they'd start the session up again as long as he was away, far enough away that he wouldn't hear the music.
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bill whelan: irish music has got some bell that rings when you... moya: there's an x factor there, somewhere. bill whelan: there is, unquestionably. and it's something to do with where it's coming from. it's coming from pretty deep down in some well. we can actually connect to each other in a way that's really meaningful without actually being able to understand it specifically. but if you open your ears to it and your heart, well then it's there for you. sinead o'connor: it was really uncool to be into traditional music. where i came from it was really uncool. in fact, you wouldn't dare sing in an irish accent, do you know what i mean? that was just completely uncool, you know? so you would avoid the triads obviously as much as you possibly could, do you know what i mean? moya: do you think even as a rock singer that kind of with, you know, traditional music and that being part, surrounding you, that has a lot to do with who you are musically as well? sinead: oh yeah, absolutely. absolutely. i just think it's in your blood and it's in your dna and it's in your history. it's the whole history of your people, you know,
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those old songs: they are ghosts, those are spirits of people who lived at one point and said who they were and said their story, but nobody knows who they were, you know? francis mcpeake iv: you have to realize that irish music was on its knees, it was dying out. man: it was very little. francis: it was very, very little. because, at that point, my great grandfather was the first belfast born uilleann piper for a hundred years. up to that point. so it shows you how basically the music was non-existent. today, some irish music was the classical music of ireland. man: oh, it is. francis: which basically tells the highs and lows, the tears, the joys, of us as a nation. and, in some way, i think that the music has to be seen and respected more like that rather than seen
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as didle-ee-dee. malachy mccourt: the traditional music were people from the country. and we call them country mugs. but we look on the country mugs how they're like, deedle dee music, and so forth.
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malachy: our superior thing was that, of course, we knew about bing crosby or perry como or dean martin. micheal o sulleabhain: the songs become a currency and then the songs travel. songs travel all over the place. why do they travel? they're not sent in envelopes, they're not sent in the post, you know, even though you can send a cd you know. they travel because the human body travels. liam clancy: songs were hidden, they were hidden because they were associated with poverty, hunger, destruction, inferiority. moya: were they? so people were embarrassed? liam: people were embarrassed. that old music. that old songs. they came from the family.
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they came from the time when ireland was on its knees. moya: how little we know of how people traveled years ago and what they brought with them and what came back and it's an incredible story. liam: well, people who had nothing carried with them the only thing that was portable and could not be taken from them: and that was song. moya: liam chancy is an irish chieftain. liam: the first time that i became aware that a song didn't belong to any one person was when i heard
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burl ives singing "froggy went a'courtin and he did ride, uh huh." i said, "mommy, come up quick! there's a fellow on the radio singing your song." and it was burl ives singing "froggy went a'courtin and he did ride uh huh, uh huh." moya: as fate would have it, burl ives was one of a popular group of folk singers who inhabited new york's greenwich village in the 1950s. by the time the clancy brothers and tommy makem began singing together as a folk group, this gang included the likes of a young robert alan zimmerman, later to be known as bob dylan, and the legendary pete seeger. pete seeger: and down in greenwich village i was one of 50 or 80 people just being amazed at what the clancy brothers and tommy makem could do. liam: if you were going to make it at all,
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you had to have conformed to certain things. you had to have kind of a uniform. my mother had knitted them for us. moya: your mother did? liam: because she had been in america when she was 18 and she knew the american winter. so it's totally accidental. moya: was it? liam: but when marty saw them, he said, "that's it! this is it! this is it! this is the uniform." what later became cliché was at the time fresh, honest, new bread from the oven in the morning.
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john sheahan: before the clancy brothers came along, these tunes that we were half ashamed to sing that we had learned in school, maybe because it was beaten into us a lot of the time. but they brought this whole new energy to it and made us proud of these songs that we had half forgotten, you know. and i think they did play a huge part in that way. ed sullivan: and now, continuing the irish theme, ireland's clancy brothers and tommy makem sing "wild colonial boys." liam: the backstage manager said, "be good, guys. you know there's 80 million people listening to you."
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what fascinated me was the universality of song, of the sense of injustice, the sense of rebellion, of anger. those emotions are universal. i don't care what color you are. pete seeger: the so-called irish songs in america, were in many ways only a shadow of what was going on in ireland. the rediscovery of their own songs, you know, and many americans of irish decent now can speak gaelic. moya: the clancys for irish people, particularly people that spoke irish, they made, you know, singing in gaelic was okay.
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donal lunny: the clancys were responsible for the fact that it was so widespread and it came back to ireland. that's the thing. moya: because we weren't listening to it over here. donal lunny: not really. and nobody was taking traditional music seriously. that was something that happened out in pubs and houses out in the country somewhere, you know. christy moore: i think what happened with the clancys was the realization that this was just as exciting as rock and roll, but it's in my own dialect and it's songs that are from ireland. and it's just as exciting as anything elvis was doing or buddy holly to me, to my ears. and then, i don't know whether i imagined this or it really happened but at a fleadh cheoil in bunclody in the very early days, liam clancy was out in the street with a guitar singing and there was a crowd around him and it was just wonderful. just this guy with a guitar singing. and the vibe was powerful.
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liam: to me you have to take life in great big gulps. go at it. pete seeger: we went there once to one of the fleadh. moya: oh, did you? pete: it was in a little town about twenty miles south of the border between north ireland and the republic of ireland and i remember it was
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tommy that got us to go there. it was in a little town, probably about 1,000 people in the whole town. moya: you've got all these kids in competitions under the different. pete: well there's music coming out of every house, every backyard, every restaurant, every, and in the fields. and tommy was telling me about it. i said, "where do people sleep?" he says, "who sleeps?" francis mcpeake iv: pete seeger was one of the first people, if not the first person to actually bring the family song "will you go lassie, go," which my great grandfather wrote, to america. and i contacted pete and asked him how he first
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came across the song, and he actually met my grandfather in the troubadour in london in 1959. judy collins: i heard this song many years ago and everyone assumes this is quite traditional, that it was an amalgamation of all kinds of things and it was but it was at somebody's hand, i guess. francis mcpeake of the mcpeake family from belfast. and this song goes like this.
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francis: remarkably, four generations of francis mcpeake, the oldest son has played irish music, loves the music, plays the bagpipes, the uilleann pipes, and has kept it going. bono: i was at slane castle and bob dylan starts to ask me about the mcpeake family.
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and i'm like, "who are they?" and he says "but they're irish. how do you not know who they are?" and then he starts talking about liam clancy and how he used to, bob dylan used to, go to see the clancy brothers in the village in new york. and how it completely informed his music. i'm looking around, i don't know any of this. john sheahan: yeah, in 1968, we were on the ed sullivan show in new york, coast to coast television. but the thing was, we went over to do seven drunken nights because it had been a hit in england and we thought, "let's do the same thing in america." but when ed sullivan heard it he said, "this isn't a moral song, you can't sing that song
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on my show." we ended up doing muirsheen durkin or something like that. so much for our plans to break into america, you know. we were a bit disillusioned, i think, after that. we thought, "to hell with it, sure." we planned to walk around europe. laura savini: ♪
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look at me, talking irish! i love it. david rubinsohn: beautiful. singing irish gorgeously. laura savini: i am singing irish. and what does that mean? of course, welcome home. and we do welcome you home right now to see the wonderful roots of irish music. how they played into the american song. hi, i'm laura savini. today, laura sweeny. david rubinsohn: hello, i'm the, i'm david rubinsohn, the fifth great grandson of thomas donnell. we're here at saint stephen's green, here in dublin. this is fabulous. 22 acres. this is just gorgeous. right in the heart, in the middle of dublin. which is just an incredible city, my first time here. it's amazing. laura savini: oh, it's so vibrant. and this is really the heart of ireland, where you hear so much music and we're going to be introducing you to that music as we go along. you know, in that first part of the show, you heard liam clancy say something, it was so touching. i don't have the words exactly but he said, you know "they took so much away from the irish, but they couldn't take away their song." and it is always been such a key part of the irish culture and something they've shared with the american culture in giving us so much of the music
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that we enjoy. so we're going to share that with you throughout this program. oh, boy, we've got everybody from the last 50 years of irish music. you've got them. from the dubliners, to the chieftains, to bono, to sinead, it's a great show. we can share a copy with you if you make a call right now. a 90 dollar gift to this station to support the fine programming on public television. we're going to send you a copy of the dvd with bonus footage. david rubinsohn: yes, bonus footage. and if you can make that pledge of support at 130 dollars, we'll include a cd of beautiful irish songs. it's going to be great. you know, i mentioned thomas donnell a little earlier, he's from belfast, but i'm going to start searching for him now throughout the city. anything i can get for you while i'm here? laura savini: oh, a butler's hot chocolate. they're famous for it here. david rubinsohn: oh really? i'm going to go find that. laura savini: okay. in the meantime, please, do make that call. the number's on your screen or you can pledge online. i want to remind you to stay with us, because we've got some special guests coming up. as a matter of fact, moya brennan from clannad is going to be joining us in just a few moments, and we have john sheehan from the dubliners.
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oh, it's really a wonderful show. lots more to go. but make the call. let us send you the cd, the dvd, and the bonus cd as your gift for supporting public television. those dollars go into the programming, making programming like this, that makes a difference, where you learn about another culture and learn about your own at the same time. only here on public television. so, make the call right now. the number's on your screen. david rubinsohn: you are looking at the stag's head pub, one of the many institutions here in dublin. it is a terrific pub, first built in 1770 that then burned down at some point. it was rebuilt in 1894, and it is exactly the same as it was since it has been rebuilt. and of course, there's music every night in the stag's head pub. and speaking of the music of ireland, don't forget, that for your 60 dollar contribution we would love to send you the cd. all you have to do is pick up that phone, call the number on the screen, and we'll say thank you with some beautiful,
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beautiful songs. at the 90 dollar pledge level, you'll receive the dvd, the director's cut edition with bonus performances and you'll receive a bonus cd. can't decide? no problem. for a 130 dollar contribution, we will send you both the cd and the dvd. all you have to do is support this public television station. laura savini: i'm with moya brennan, who of course is the host of the music of ireland: welcome home and in the group clannad or clannad as you say in ireland. and you play the harp. and we're actually in the long room at trinity college and we're in front of a very important harp. moya brennan: yes, this is known as the brian boru harp. and brian boru was an ancient king of ireland and there was a big battle that he died at. this harp isn't dated at the time of brian boru but it's regarded as, kind of i suppose, in honor of him. it's round about the 1400s. laura savini: and the harp actually became the symbol
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of ireland. moya brennan: it's the only country in the world that has a musical instrument as its emblem. laura savini: and what you did with the harp and with your family, you took the music of ireland from this sound that the bards had and you really injected a new flavor to it. explain how it came about that you really became the founders of the new irish sound. moya brennan: well, we're a family, i'm the eldest of 9. and we come from an area in donegal called gweedore. first language is gaelic. and that's probably part of the sound as well. but it's really funny how people regard what they relate to as celtic sound. that it's very old and it's not; it's like 35 years old. i suppose putting harmonies and using instrumentation to create the motion and the arrangement around the songs. laura savini: so the music that americans think, the sound we think, is the celtic sound, is a sound created only in the last generation?
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moya brennan: exactly, yes, indeed it is, yea. laura savini: and i don't want to underplay that. you created this sound. and i think that's important for people to recognize that you brought in that harmonic sound that we hear in so many modern irish groups now. moya brennan: well, it didn't exist before that and we were up against it when we started doing it because it was a no no. laura savini: well you were part of the process. i have to thank you. the interviews that you did in this show are beautiful and just the music you've brought to america by you being strong and inventive and i thank you for that. and thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. moya brennan: oh, thank you. it's a pleasure. thank you. david rubinsohn: well, while laura and moya are inside trinity college, i'm outside trinity college. just experiencing the sites, the sounds, all the hustle and bustle of dublin. it is just incredible. and when you think of what public television has done, yet again, i hope you consider making that pledge of support to keep programs like this alive. because this is a show you're not going to see
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anywhere else but on public television. we wouldn't have it any other way. it's not, it's not beholden to commercial enterprises; it is made possible by pledges by folks just like you. if you're, if you're capturing something from the culture of this show, from the music of this show, then i ask you to take a moment and remember the station that is making it possible. and that is this station that you're watching right now. so please, pick up the phone, make a pledge of support to keep programs like this on the air. we have thank you gifts for you as well, but the mission of public television is really what it's all about. the music of ireland and the mission of public television. laura savini: well as you can see, our musical journey has brought us down to the shore. we're just about in the donegal area right now. david rubinsohn: and, by the way, coming up in the next segment, please don't go anywhere, we have, we're going to learn all about the chieftains and paddy moloney, he's terrific, and he's actually recording a song with you, which is available on this cd,
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so make that 60 dollar contribution to this public television station, just call the number on the bottom of your screen. what else do we got, laura? laura savini: oh wait until you see. you're going to see the evolution of celtic music. how quickly things changed when riverdance hit the scene. you'll see michael flatley and bill wheelan and a lot of the other people that took part in it. it really shook the world when that happened. moya brennan: well it did. even in ireland. i mean, everyone knew where they were when they saw that. it was just a phenomenon. and it still is when you watch it. it's amazing. laura savini: now you're going to want to see this footage again, so i hope you'll call in, let us send you the dvd when you make a pledge at 90 dollars. now we're just about where moya lives. we're pretty close to your town. moya brennan: not far. i'm very biased, but this is one of the most beautiful counties in ireland. david rubinsohn: it is. moya brennan: i just live up the road and there's a lot of great songs about donegal as well. fantastic ones. some i sing. some my father sings. laura savini: one that you'll sing now? david rubinsohn: yeah, really? moya brennan: oh why not? david rubinsohn: why not indeed.
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moya brennan: there's a song actually about gweedore, and it talks about some of the place names of gweedore so let's try one of those. ♪ down past dunlewey's bonny lakes one morning i did stray uil i reached sweet clady banks where the silvery salmon play i strolled around through old bunbeg and down along the shore and gazed with admiration on the green fields of gweedore ♪ just a little flavor. laura savini: it was beautiful. david rubinsohn: nice. moya brennan: thank you.
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moya: while the clancy brothers and tommy makem were bringing traditional irish song to america, possibly the most influential figure in the renaissance of traditional irish music back at home was a young melodious genius called sean o riada. o riada was a c uniquely found his voice in the music of theater and film. his works combine traditional irish tunes and sean-nós, a form of old-style songs with orchestrated arrangements. o riada told people that one should listen to sean-nós song either as a child would listen or as if they were songs from india. colin irwin: i mean, nobody had done what o riada had done before. you know, he was presenting it in a fairly high brow fashion. michael o sulleabhain: it was a time when people were creating utopias. because he had gone back to cooley, of course, in west cork, the wealth of the irish speaking region, and he had created a kind of utopia or camelot. jim sheridan: he tried to do what joyce did which was connect the irish tradition of music to a
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european cultural tradition, you know, to a symphonic tradition. colin irwin: the whole, kind of, modern irish music is pretty much based on what o riada did. gavin friday: i became obsessed with o riada, sean o riada. o riada's sa gaiety, that album, just listen to the vibrancy of that and i just went, "this is like punk. this is like jazz." moya: it was during the time, because he took the irish music and he completely vamped it. gavin: he gave it that welly. moya: traditional irish music usually consisted of groups of musicians who would play in céilí bands in houses, crossroads, or dance halls around the country. but in the early 1960s, o riada wanted to form a group who would play old style tunes in orchestrated fashion. he met and became friends with the young paddy moloney who had already been developing his own similar group. paddy moloney: he was playing at the abbey theater for a job, earn a few bob.
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moya: really? he's doin' a bit of everything? paddy: he was. he used to do boogie-woogie and pop and all sorts of things on piano. but i remember then sean meeting up with me on every monday. we'd meet and he'd come across trinity bar with a troubie hat on and, "okay, okay. what have we got here, now?" and we'd start writing out, "now you write out what you think" and "what would you do with that tune, this tune." and then he told me that he's going to start a group and i said, "well, i've got a few musicians i'll bring on board." and then, you know, he had this great professorship, he was the genius as far as i was concerned, but he had great regards for what i was doing. moya: o riada called his original group ceoltóirí chualann and paddy moloney, and some of his musicians would perform with them. paddy soon formulized his own band andecorded what was to be a one-off album. this band would be called "the chieftains." the first irish traditional band to become world famous.
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michael flatley: the first night that i heard the chieftains playing live i knew that there's something so special there and that's one of a kind that can't, i don't think, be replicated. and it's genuinely irish whatever that is.
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it's genuinely irish. in the middle of the opening number, i ran out and i did this new style of dance i created and the audience stood up. and, you know, i came backstage breathing heavy but i was so happy. i just danced with the chieftains. it was the coolest thing ever. you know, and then paddy moloney who's a great man really liked the reaction, so they offered me the tour. i did the tour, one tour lead to another. ten years later we were still touring on and off. larry kirwan: their first four or five albums are just majestic in traditional. moya: pure. larry: they're pure and traditional music. moya: indeed. larry: but are they going to keep doing that forever? you know, after doing the battle of akram,
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you've kind of nailed it. so i can see paddy's mind saying "now, let's stretch out a little bit here." brian masterson: i'm one of the few people who can say that i recorded the chieftains on the great wall of china. moya: oh, did you? brian: i did, yeah. moya: that's fascinating. brian: i remember the very first meeting in the hotel room with paddy and the chieftains and the chinese orchestra. and suddenly they discovered that the tunes were almost the same. any of the slow pieces, they had an equivalent tune that sounded almost the same. moya: coming from the same... brian: yeah. and almost the same melodies. it was unreal.
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moya: what i love about paddy is he's not afraid to experiment. lauren onkey: we certainly wouldn't call the chieftains a rock and roll band or particularly influential on rock and roll and yet they're the band that's collaborated with so many rock and roll musicians. so they seem to have been open to those kinds of collaborations, and i think on an album like van's irish heartbeat, challenging the idea of what a traditional song cn be. moya: were you surprised at the amount of like stars like that that got involved, like sting, like kate bush, like mick jagger? you know, what do you think that attracts them
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to music from ireland? brian: i think they see that the people who make this music and play this music are the real deal. andrea corr: i think if paddy, you know, has chosen you, if paddy moloney has decided to collaborate with you, it does mean you're on the way up. he's seen it. he's looked into his crystal ball and he's said, "actually they're going to be something that's helpful on the album." man: moya, you there, yeah? moya: i'm here, yeah, ready and willing to go. man: okay, good. we'll bring you then from the bridge. just coming up to the first verse. moya: is that just the harp bit before? man: the little harp link, yeah. moya: all right, go for it. man: good stuff. okay. okay, paddy, yeah. paddy: great. need to allocate.
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moya: are you just going to go on forever, paddy? paddy: i think it will be a boots on job. i'll go down with the boots on. moya: my father and my grandparents were in the show band business. but my father eventually went into the pub business in donegal.
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donegal was isolated and insulated from the rest of the world. but this was the way for much of ireland. leo brennan: no other form of entertainment, only what you had and if you had something you liked you learned it. moya: there were no houses there when we were growing up except my grandparents' house in front of us and we were sort of the house behind them. the mountain was behind that again that we used to love climbing. we could see the sea and the school was just 100 yards down the road and basically just, you know, growing up with being the eldest of 9 it was just an amazing influence in our lives. this countryside also helped inspire the family's musical group that we formed in 1970 called clannad. the group included my brothers ciarán and pól, two uncles pádraig and noel, and for a short period, my younger sister enya. we all grew up around leo's tavern and on the stage there. we were exposed to more music than the average family, but one of the major outside influences
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that helped to shape our music and many other artists all over ireland came in the mid 1960s. simon dee: this is radio caroline on 199, england's first commercial radio station. my name's simon dee, with you for the next two hours. first one off the top of the pile: the hollys, "rockin robin." ciaran brennan and pol brennan: radio caroline then was the pirate radio. it was the ship. it was illegal, yeah. it was illegal. it was just amazing what they were playing. moya: all kinds. radio: good evening. it's caroline-319. bob marley, "jump nyabinghi" off the album confrontation, before that janice joplin and "a classic piece of my heart," and before that stevie wonder "boogie on reggae woman". and we started with jimmy cliff and vietnam. moya: so that was the first time that we heard things like, you know, the beach boys, the mamas and the papas, and the everly brothers to anything with harmonies. we just loved it and tried to kind of copy it a bit.
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ciaran brennan: we always liked to come back to do a concert here. once a year because this area between gweedore and ranafast is the place where we get all the songs from. and we'd like to play the songs back to them. michael mcglynn: i heard of clannad, the first time, i'd say for the first time about 1979. because all of you are related, when you sing,
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the sound is the same. and of course, because i was used to singing with my two brothers where the sound is the same intrinsically, i immediately felt an empathic thing and then harry's game came along, and at that stage, i was a firm fan. michael: i could see then that there was a way of making this music, not popular, but making it accessible. orla fallon: i think clannad actually opened up the doors for an awful lot of performers to go around the world and sing because you made irish music very cool.
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donal lunny: irish tunes, you got the reel which is, it's a four-four thing so it's. and most rock music is. then you have the jig which would be. right. and then, when you got the slip jig, which i love. and that's three-three. like the jig is two-threes. which is.
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yeah. with the slip-jig it's like. you know? moya: that's what's yourself and andy brought in quite a bit to the irish music. christy moore: well i've heard different people talking about it over the years and describing when they first heard planxty that prior to that they had a very set view in their heads of what irish music was all about. but that with planxty that we came at it from a different kind of an angle. moya: planxty is a group formed in the 1970s from the same foundation of influences from abroad. it consisted originally of christy moore, donal lunny, andy irvine, and uilleann piper liam ó floinn.
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moya: like the dubliners, planxty's musical mark in america was limited. but in 1979, a composer and keyboard player named bill whelan joined the group and set in motion a series of creative events that would eventually unleash what may have been the greatest cultural and musical production ever to come from ireland. brian masterson: i remember recording a mad planxty concert in the olympia. it was towards the end of planxty proper and bill had joined. and bill just, he just so loved being, you know, being allowed to be part of this because again, you know, he's bringing his tradition. but suddenly here's the fender rhodes and he's playing all of these beautiful chords and planxty has become yet another layer.
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moya: since 1956, television in europe has had an annual program called the eurovision song contest and each year it's hosted by a different country. in 1981, planxty's bill whelan and donal lunny composed timedance, which was performed as an interval act for this popular song contest. timedance has been seen as a forerunner to riverdance, which also began as an interval act on eurovision when it returned to ireland in 1994. this 8 minute performance of riverdance would soon change the way the world perceived irish music and culture forever. tell me about how it just even came about. bill whelan: well, i came up with the idea that if it was based on the life of the river, we would start small and then we would move on into the as the river goes down through the land and goes
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out to the sea and comes back and starts again. that would be the journey. and that became the inspiration for the full show, ultimately. michael flatley: for me, all i know is if you go into any pub in ireland or even an irish pub anywhere in the world, everybody in there is laughing, joking, playing music, singing, dancing. they're so full of love and fire and sadness and joy and emotion. how can these people dance with their arms at their sides and no facial expression? something went wrong here. this is not the way, it doesn't feel right to me. so i started moving the arms. noel eccles: there's no tradition of big drums in irish music, i mean, the drum in irish music is the bodhran.
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so there's no tradition of that thunderous thing, so it was really the weight of the bodhran in the traditional setting put into an orchestral sized instrument. so that was brought into riverdance and those influences that i have kind of learned over the years, i brought them to that. and i've brought them to the other groups that i've worked with. so they needed something to match the feet in riverdance, the same sort of weight. announcers: ladies and gentlemen, riverdance. michael mcglynn: we were all standing on stage in 1994 at the eurovision song contest and it just started off and i remember walking up to bill that night with my brother john just as we were going on stage and i said, "do you think this is going to work?"
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and he said, "i don't know what's going to happen." it was mad! moya: but when you were rehearsing it, i mean, did you feel excited by it because you were rehearsing it for a week or so. michael: no, no, no. as far as, we couldn't see the big picture. bill whelan: hear my cry as we call it, cloud song for riverdance, was the last thing that i wrote. in other words, there was such a pressure to get the dance elements ready. moya: but did you have in mind that you would have a song there as well... bill: oh yeah. absolutely. even the last part of riverdance is basically a restatement of the same tune once in a slightly different rhythmic pattern and throughout the show in fact there is that same theme driving the music which has to do with building it.
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michael flatley: there's no way to explain. i had been dancing in america. here i am flying around using my arms and doing what they would consider very broadway, showy kind of steps. they're incredibly reserved, hands by the side, look straight forward, do the step according to what they were taught. do your left foot step perfectly. do a certain amount of steps, certain amount of bars. everything was so different, so when i showed up and danced, it was like two trains colliding. bill: both of us knew at that stage that this was really going to be something. moya: special? bill: special. but we didn't actually, nothing really, you know, i've often said this, "but nothing prepared us for what it was eventually going to be." michael flatley: it wasn't for days later, we realized the kind of remarkable effect it had. but the fact that we pulled it off on stage that night, that's all i wanted. we delivered. and i had done everything i wanted to do.
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announcer: the audience are on their feet for michael flatley, a native of chicago but of irish heritage. jean butler, born in new york, but again of irish heritage. two brilliant dancers. laura savini: i remember the first time i saw riverdance. i was completely blown away. those driving rhythms on the drums. michael flatley basically flew across the floor and i knew i would never forget that show. hi, i'm laura savini and i have a feeling we both saw riverdance for the first time in the same place: right here on this public television station. and it's so cool to hear that back story of how it all happened and came together. we'll share it with you again when you make a call right now and make a pledge for 90 dollars. we're going to send you the dvd of the music of ireland: welcome home. this is a program you're going to want to share with your family. now i happen to be in gweedore in donegal and this is leo's tavern.
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now leo is the head of the brennan clan and this is princess moya the first lady of celtic music. moya brennan: oh, thank you. laura savini: this is just wonderful. the music we're hearing tonight is just great. who are these young people? moya brennan: well, they're the younger generation, and they're a group, they call themselves clan og which means young tree. and they get together every week and they learn from their peers and they pass on music and play music that they've been hearing since they were little and just proud of you know playing together and enjoying it. which is really, really great. and it's a real social event for them. laura savini: and i love seeing the two generations together. it really is very nice.
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david rubinsohn: well how often in america does a younger generation embrace the music of their parents or their grandparents. it happens all the time here in ireland and that is what we are celebrating here with this special: the music of ireland. and we would love to offer you the music of ireland for your pledge of 60 dollars.
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this is a cd that has been done especially in conjunction with this program. it is fabulous. i encourage you to make that pledge of support at 60 dollars. unless, of course, you would like to make that pledge of support of 90 dollars. we will send this to you for your pledge. this has extra material. it has a special bonus cd that is just for members of public television so call right now or make a pledge online. and if you can't decide, no problem, you can have them both for a 130 dollar contribution to public television. so whatever level you're comfortable at just know that your support goes a long way to keeping this station on the air. a little earlier today, we happened to go by ashford castle in the village of cong. you're going to see some of that in a moment but first, when we were in dublin, laura had the great pleasure of talking with john sheehan of the dubliners. take a look. laura savini: john sheehan, i'm so glad you could take the time to meet up with me here. john sheehan: pleasure, laura. laura savini: you offered something different to the
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band, where you had a formal music education. what did you, what did your formal education bring to the sound? john sheehan: do for me? well, i studied classical music in just a school of music just around the corner here, laura savini: you did? john sheehan: actually when i was a young fellow. i went there for about five or six years. and while i liked the classical music, my heart was really in the traditional stuff. but i think the discipline of, you know, proper posture and bowing and so on, i think that helped in getting a good tone and developing my own sound for the traditional music you know. laura savini: i was wondering that, when you hear about how much the american music has been influenced by work that you've done and other irish musicians and then i was wondering if you've taken anything from american music. john sheehan: yeah, well, american music of course has your famous blue grass music. you can often trace blue grass tunes back to you know original traditional irish tunes.
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i suppose we're not too narrow in the way we look at music ourselves. we absorb the influences from other music ourselves, yeah. laura savini: i love that, that you play the mandolin, the concertina, the tin whistle. there's so many. what is your favorite of those instruments? john sheehan: the fiddle i think is the one i find the most expression in. although i started off on the tin whistle and then went onto the fiddle. laura savini: you did? john sheehan: yeah, yeah. you're familiar with the tin whistle? laura savini: i have, i have heard it a few times. john sheehan: would you like to hear a bit of a tune? laura savini: get out. do you have one with you? john sheehan: i have one warmed up in me pocket here. laura savini: oh, you're killing me. this is great. what will you play? john sheehan: just one of the first tunes i learned on the whistle going to school called the belfast horn pipe. i'll play you a little bit of it just to give you the flavor. laura savini: i love it.
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laura savini: i guess that's easier to carry around than a fiddle. john sheehan: isn't it, yeah? so handy, yeah. laura savini: that was great. john sheehan: i was ready for action. laura savini: i love it. thank you so much. that was a great surprise. i think we should go down and get a pint. what do you think? john sheehan: we could do with one now. it's very thirsty work the whistling you know?
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laura savini: do you see ashford castle behind me? this dates back to the 1200s. check it out. all the crenulated turrets around it. just what you see in your mind when you think of a fairytale castle. i know this is exactly what i used to draw as a child and it's so amazing to see it here. it's not a fairytale. a lot of history took place here. as a matter of fact, the o'connor clan was defeated right here at ashford castle. sorry to say that to all the o'connor's out there. but as time went on, this castle retained its, its part in the culture of ireland. and you know what's so fascinating: when you travel around ireland, you hear different music that comes from different areas. like in the u.s.

Sino Tv Early Evening News
PBS March 19, 2011 12:00am-1:00am PDT


TOPIC FREQUENCY Irish 37, Laura Savini 35, Moya 33, Ireland 31, Moya Brennan 18, John Sheehan 15, David Rubinsohn 13, America 11, Michael Flatley 7, Paddy 7, Liam 6, Bill Whelan 6, Paddy Moloney 6, American 6, Clannad 6, Donegal 6, Dublin 5, Pete Seeger 5, Donal Lunny 5, Clancy 4
Network PBS
Duration 01:00:00
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel 107 (693 MHz)
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 528
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
Audio/Visual sound, color

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on 3/19/2011